After a couple of weeks we find our pair of heroes relaxing in the top rooms of the inn at Fertum Dreyhawk. Olf remained outside of the walls in the surrounding wilds while his companions indulged themselves (as best they knew how). They had high-tailed it to the Fertum after a week and a half or so of dragging the cart around the woods before hitting the road and spotted the “Blue-Hand” rabble rousing a large group of peasants near a farm South of Dreyton. The Blue-hand which they had heard about in Part 7 (sorry I glossed over it) and had a run-in with him and his father when he lifted some jewels from them after looting Blackbrow upon their return to the Fertum but before hunting down the were-wolf in Part 8. I forgot to include it in the blog, my bad.
Basically, they got the information that the Blue-Hand is a descendent of the original lords of the Cleft-Rills who lifted the yoke of the Lich of Blackbrow from the region but were weakened losing their best in the fight and the rest too afraid and occupied by a sudden invasion by another noble family, etc. etc. The players didn’t care about the story. All brought about by the old man seeing the stamp on the blade of the sword that Bers had copped from the hand of a corpse (see Pt.6). Dead-Eye had told the old-man and the Blue-hand, “Well, your ‘heritage’ is in tower stuck through a corpse. Ya can’t miss it.” They were only concerned with recovering their gems which they did.
Guess what he was waving around, yup the glowing sword which had pinned the mummified corpse to the jade throne in Blackbrow (again Pt. 6). So our pair of heroes did their best to avoid that “mess”. They spent a solid week of drinking in the village beerhall and Bers spent money taking hot baths with perfumed soaps every night in the Merchant’s Inn located within the Fertum. Bers disposed of her old armor which was to put it mildly “grody” and badly damaged then purchased a new breast-plate. During their weeklong bout of self-indulgence they ran into some familiar faces in the beerhall.
Around the middle of the week Bers strode into the Beerhall in Dreyton where she was waved over to a table by Lundo, the handsome Ivoran “sportsman and sword for hire” sitting with his companions, the dark woman Anizia and the unfriendly Shinzarro (see Pt. 13). Lundo offered to buy a round but Bers decided to pay for everything and carried on trading flirtations with Lundo as his strangely quiet companions imbibed very little. Dead-Eye joined them when he entered after paying the Fertum armorer to craft him a suit of superior quality hide armor from the Hill Dragon hide and the village fletcher in Dreyton to craft some dragon-bone arrows from the mass of dragon bone they were wheeling around. He had just left the resident wizard’s shop in order to have his Greyling hide gauntlets enchanted with Iron Grip (found in the Great Grimoire Vol. I, RGS1006) magic ability. He had 3 weeks, 3 days and 17 days to wait respectively for each item to be finished. They sat and drank for at least an hour before the saloon-doors slammed open and a young man of apparent Ivoran extraction shouted with out-stretched arms, “never fear the Blackwings are HERE!” There was a general applause with whispers of the dragonslayers that lord Dreyhawk had sent for at the beginning of winter had finally arrived to deal with the green dragon which had been extorting sacrifices of cattle from the people of the Cleft-Rills. Lundo and his companions kept looking back and forth with puzzled expressions to our duo (Bers and Dead-Eye) then to the young Ivoran with a pair of black draconic wings emblazoned across his brigandine, bracers studded with dragon-teeth on his forearms and his companions who came shuffling in behind him. The three excused themselves from the table unceremoniously and jaunted over to the newly arrived Blackwings apparently to schmooze. All Dead-Eye could do was to say, “Aww s%@$t!”
After a while the pair approached the professionals and introduced themselves. The leader of the Blackwings while abroad from their native city Chago on the Ivoran Coast was named Orik-Falin. He introduced Zanio his right-hand man, a large man in plate-mail emblazoned with the same guild mark whom just grunted and gave a short, curt head twitch in Dead’s and Bers’ direction. Dach, a short wiry fellow that hadn’t stopped complaining about the food and “poor” quality of the ale since the group had first sat to table their “tunnel-rat” (actually dungeoneer) whom was wearing a superior quality arming doublet. Zebin the magus whose gold amulet and bloodmetal bracelet with a large piece of jade immediately caught their eyes he quickly covered his bejeweled wrist with his ample red satin sleeves and proceeded to snub them while they remained at the table. Finally there was Yelchi, a 3-foot tall ratling who had set his pair of hand-crossbows on the table as he ate and appeared to be nervous to be meeting our two adventurers and remained relatively quiet. They meaning the Blackwing dragon-slayer guild of Chago on the coast far to the west had been contracted by the lord of Dreyhawk to take care of their little dragon problem and when asked by Dead-Eye if they had ever dealt with a “big green” Orik answered that they specialized in the black and marsh dragons which stalked Strogo Swamp, the Troll Marshes and the Corcander Moorland north of Chago where the Guild-house was located. Orik was delighted to hear that the pair were themselves dragon-slayers that knew the local area well and thus after volunteering they were quickly contracted to help guide the Blackwings to their quarry as Dead-Eye already had good idea where the lair might be located (see Pt. 4). They were planning to move out at the end of the 7-day.
A few days passed as they drifted around the Fertum and Dreyton until one foggy morning with just 3 days to go till their guide job the pair had met back up with Olf and all three were busy hopping from shop to workshop to try to figure out what they would need for their adventure an out of control wagon came rumbling through the gates with a bloodied, unconscious young farmer at the reins. Curious and strangely calm the group went to see what was going on. While Olf tried to heal the lad his dying words “Loc Troll” fled the blood-flecked lips. The boy’s wounds were deep and at least a few hours old. A bystander recognized him as the son of a farmer whose homestead was a ways up the Old Road to the north-east. So as the group had a few more days to kill they decided to hunt down the Loc-Troll.
They began loading up their wagon after purchasing some oxen to pull it and were readying to move out on the Old Road and double-time it to Loc Lake (about 1 and a half days off) a familiar sandy voice crackled out. “Ah! My friends!”
They turned to see Zancor the one-armed with a tall slender companion next to him completely cloaked in long black robes and a face-obscuring cowl. Zancor was seemingly trying to introduce them to his new friend but they brushed them both off and trundled off to “kill” the troll. They wasted no time in getting to the lake in about a day traveling through the night and decided to sleep a few hours until the evening when they got up and entered the cave on the other side of the lake which opened up under the cliffs which cupped the north, west and east sides of Loc Lake.
To make it short they trounced just about everything that came their way while stumbling through the rather large lair located at the rear of a complex network of caverns. In all they faced a Giant Void Spider, four strange blue monitor lizards, four latter-generation trolls, and a Violet Fungus before arriving at the mouth of a finely masoned arch-ribbed passageway which terminated at a large rectangular opening at the far end where the Loc-Troll stood by two mechanical levers. The troll was 8 feet tall and heavily muscled wearing a scale-mail suit of armor with a finely made chest plate with spiked shoulder plates over it his massive troll-hammer standing next to him and him wielding a loaded arbalest, a black horned helmet on his head. Needless to say Dead-Eye decided to try a charge staying away from the center of the flagstone floor “just in case” and trying to use the brick support arches along the wall which protruded about 2 feet from the walls as cover. Bers decided to simply fly right at him using her Cape of Bat-Flight. As soon as battle began the troll pulled a lever and loud clicks sounded throughout the passageway and Dead-Eye found that there were a couple of very large trapdoors in strategic places one of which he had stepped on and narrowly avoided being swallowed up by acrobatically leaping onto stable ground. He had to dodge a spring-loaded mace which swung from the archway above aimed at face-level triggered by an unseen tripwire and while slinking against the walls he triggered a fusillade of darts by stepping on a pressure plate deftly dodging those. The troll shot the arbalest at Bers but missed and she moved right up on him, mind that all save Olf were wounded from their previous encounters. Bers regretted her decision immediately after the troll snatched his hammer and bashed her but good. She immediately retreated “to pick up Olf”. Dead-Eye tried to find a spot to be able to lob some arrows at him but couldn’t and decided to try to get to the end of the several hundred-foot long hallway and the troll as soon as possible without stumbling into any of the traps that is.
Bers flew back and dropped Olf by the archway and engaged the troll. Another creature shorter, bloated but definitely troll-like stepped out from behind him and began to sling spells at Bers and Dead-Eye all of which they were able to shake off. Bers and the Loc-Troll traded blows and the troll was wounded badly by the third round as was his troll-wife whom Dead-Eye had engaged when he reached the fray. The trolls retreated and the door slammed shut behind them. It took a while for the team to pry open the rusted iron door but open it they did charging right into the lair proper. The room was fetid and fire-lit the walls lined with human and faun skins. The Loc-Troll waited at the far end of the chamber appearing fully healed. Dead-Eye charged and was surprise-attacked from a doorway he was passing by the troll-wife wielding a crusty two-handed meat-cleaver. An imp flew into the room at her shoulder and spit bolts of electricity. The battle lasted only two rounds with the Loc-Troll being felled by Bers whom was getting healed as needed by Olf whom stayed at her back and the troll-wife being cut-down by Dead-Eye the imp disappearing in a puff of foul smoke immediately after. Bers entertained the idea of taking the troll-hammer for herself until she realized she would take a fair penalty for the size and weight of the weapon and just left it. They swallowed some healing potions to ease their wounds and began to ransack the place.
The workshop held an iron chest which they simply pried open with Dead-Eye’s newly acquired pry-bar after a few tries and copped 20 gold talons, 10 platinum talons, and 3 large emeralds. The kitchen was well-stocked large pieces of meat and what appeared to be smoked ham-hocks/beef-legs hung from hooks. The scene in the scullery was gruesome. The place was blood spattered and had a small prison cell attached to it which held a limbless human corpse of a young man with a freshly slit throat. They loaded the two sealed kegs of ale they found in the kitchen promptly leaving a great sword with the serpentine blade (a blade akin to a Kris) set on a pedestal in one of the rooms alone (good call if I might say so) and high-tailed it out of there. They followed the ridge until they came to the Old High Road East of the lair and decided to make camp between the ridge and the road.
By morning they were traveling along the Old Road headed south back to the Fertum and their tracking contract. They were taking their time and made it about 8 miles south-west of Miller’s Fork, about 20 miles from the Loc-Troll’s cave and 16 still to go to Fertum Dreyhawk by that evening and as the dusk came and began to fade into night they turned off of the road near the base of an outcropping of the foothills. They could see a bright blue bonfire burning atop outcropping and guessing it was the local witch they decided to turn back around and find a campsite on the other side of the road. It was there they were confronted by a black knight in full plate armor astride a ghostly steed which seemed to be semi-transparent. In the encroaching dark they could see two pale pin-points of light glowing beneath the visor.
Cris: “Damn! A death knight!”
They could see the creature’s shield was bore the image of a black fist gripping a white star against a purple field (see Pt. 3) as it lowered its lance and began to charge. Dead-Eye shot an arrow which passed straight through the charger as if it weren’t there and Bers pulled out her lonspear, the one she took from Blackbrow and activated its magical power, Phantom Scourge, which caused a multitude of phantasmal spiked tentacles to project from the spear catching the undead rider and its stead. Instantly the spectral charger was rent to shreds and disappeared with an echoing shriek. The Death Knight landed on his feet. Bers dropped the spear and pulled her great sword (the one she took from the corpse at Blackbrow) and engaged the monster. Dead-Eye and Bers hammered it while Olf provided back-up with his healing powers for 4 rounds before Dead-Eye got the killing blow at the beginning of the 4th. The empty armor fell to pieces onto the ground. What was once fine black armor now appeared to be thin and brittle with age rusted completely through in large areas of each piece of armor. Dead-Eye put it best when he asked, “What the hell is a Death Knight doing out here!?.”
Bers: “What’s a Death Knight?”
They sauntered through the Fertum gates late the following morning to find the Blackwings hastily loading up their covered wagons in front of the Merchant’s Inn.
Dead-Eye: “What the hell! I thought you weren’t goin’ to get the big green for another 4 days!”
Orik: “Ah! Well, I decided why wait? I sent a few street urchins scouring the village for you as you weren’t here but alas dragons wait not my friend.” He put on a wide sh*%-eating grin.
Dead-Eye: “Well, my arrows should be ready at least. I need to make a stop in Dreyton to pick up my arrows!”
As a slight breeze sifted through his heroic mane Orik said, “Well we’re not waiting so make it quick and catch up with us on the road, the Old Road right? Good.” He donned his visor-less helmet the crown studded with dragon-teeth.
After fastening the chinstrap, slapping a sneering Dead-Eye on the shoulder and with a wave of his arm, “Let’s move OUT!”
To Be Continued…